When to unite and when to divide, that is the question, and a right answer requires the
wisdom of a Solomon.
Some settle the problem by a rule of thumb: All union is good and all division bad. It's
that easy. But obviously this effortless way of dealing with the matter ignores the
lessons of history and overlooks some of the deep spiritual laws by which men live.
If good men were all for union and bad men for division, or vice versa, that would
simplify things for us. Or if it could be shown that God always unites and the devil
always divides it would be easy to find our way around in this confused and confusing
world. But that is not how things are.
To divide what should be divided and unite what should be united is the part of wisdom.
Union of dissimilar elements is never good even where it is possible, nor is the arbitrary
division of elements that are alike; and this is as certainly true of things moral and
religious as of things political or scientific.
The first divider was God who at creation divided the light from the darkness. This
division set the direction for all God's dealings in nature and in grace. Light and
darkness are incompatible; to try to have both in the same place at once is to try the
impossible and end by having neither the one nor the other, but dimness rather, and
In the world of men there are at present scarcely any sharp outlines. The race is fallen.
Sin has brought confusion. The wheat grows with the tares, the sheep and the goats
coexist, the farms of the just and the unjust lie side by side in the landscape, the
mission is next door to the saloon.
But things will not always be so. The hour is coming when the sheep will be divided from
the goats and the tares separated from the wheat. God will again divide the light from the
darkness and all things will run to their kind. Tares will go into the fire with tares and
wheat into the garner with wheat. The dimness will lift like a fog and all outlines will
appear. Hell will be seen to be hell all the way through, and heaven revealed as the one
home for all who bear the nature of the one God.
For that time we with patience wait. In the meanwhile for each of us, and for the church
wherever she appears in human society, the constantly recurring question must be: What
shall we unite with and from what shall we separate? The question of coexistence does not
enter here, but the question of union and fellowship does. The wheat grows in the same
field with the tares, but shall the two cross-pollinate? The sheep graze near the goats,
but shall they seek to interbreed? The unjust and the just enjoy the same rain and
sunshine, but shall they forget their deep moral difference and intermarry?
To these questions the popular answer is yes. Union for union's sake, and men shall
brothers be for all that. Unity is so devoutly to be desired that no price is too high to
pay for it and nothing is important enough to keep us apart. Truth is slain to provide a
feast to celebrate the marriage of heaven and hell, and to support a concept of unity
which has no basis in the Word of God.
The Spirit-illuminated church will have none of this. In a fallen world like ours unity is
no treasure to be purchased at the price of compromise. Loyalty to God, faithfulness to
truth and the preservation of a good conscience are jewels more precious than gold of
Ophir or diamonds from the mine. For these jewels men have suffered the loss of property,
imprisonment and even death; for them, even in recent times, behind the various curtains,
followers of Christ have paid the last full measure of devotion and quietly died, unknown
to and unsung by the great world, but known to God and dear to His Father's heart. In the
day that shall declare the secrets of all souls these shall come forth to receive the
deeds done in the body. Surely such as these are wiser philosophers than the religious
camp followers of meaningless unity who have not the courage to stand against current
vogues and who bleat for brotherhood because it happens to be for the time popular.
"Divide and conquer" is the cynical slogan of Machiavellian political leaders, but
Satan knows also how to unite and conquer. To bring a nation to its knees the aspiring
dictator must unite it. By repeated appeals to national pride or to the need to avenge
some past or present wrong the demagogue succeeds in uniting the populace behind him. It
is easy after that to take control of the military and to beat the legislature into
submission. Then follows almost perfect unity indeed, but it is the unity of the
stockyards and the concentration camp. We have seen this happen several times in this
century, and the world will see at least once more when the nations of the earth are
united under Antichrist.
When confused sheep start over a cliff the individual sheep can save himself only by
separating from the. flock. Perfect unity at such a time can only mean total destruction
for all. The wise sheep to save his own hide disaffiliates.
Power lies in the union of things similar and the division of things dissimilar. Maybe
what we need in religious circles today is not more union but some wise and courageous
division. Everyone desires peace but it could be that revival will follow the sword.